Do you struggle with decision making? Feeling confident in your next steps and actions, while constantly second guessing or doubting yourself directly after the fact? I know right!
There is so much about living life that feels complicated. Decisions that feel high stakes, and an irritating preoccupation with getting it “right” this time. Dialectically, we also have moments of peace with a deep awareness of the simplicity of our existence and feeling of being grounded in ourselves and aligned with our values. These moments are often fleeting and are hijacked by self-judgment or a thought like, “okay hippie, this is real life though, and we have to work for what we want.” I often feel the latter moments more often on the backend of a vacation, ideally in another country. Taking time to unplug from the daily grind has this grand impact of putting things in perspective for me. Having moments where I feel completely sure that whatever is coming next is meant for me, and if it my expectations aren’t met or something doesn’t happen then it isn’t meant for me. Exhale.
I just got home from a magical vacation with my husband, I was aware right as I was finally landing back in NYC how desperately I try to “hold on” to the vacation feeling, demanding of myself that I “stay present, stay calm, fucking hold on to it!” Inherent in holding on is letting go, always. I came up with some ways to connect with this Zen self-state even when I am back in the daily hustle of NYC life, and as a reminder to myself when I forget to let go. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
1. Be Here NOW. Right Right Right now, I like to think about the present moment as being inside the clap, the second your right-hand hits the left to create the clapping sound, right there, that is this moment. Ask yourself, “right here right now, is everything ok?” The answer is almost always yes, right in this moment everything is okay, nothing crazy is happening right now. Then our persistent and imaginative mind remind us, “but in 45 minutes I have this important meeting and I am scared I’m going to blow it.” Or “I really shouldn’t have made that comment to Ashley about the work event, what was I thinking, it was so awkward, gosh I’m so awkward!”
Ok, but right here, right right right now…is everything is okay? Pause, inhale, exhale.
2. Notice it and STOP IT! When we find ourselves in the irritating preoccupation with getting it “right” this time, notice we are struggling with an important decision, feeling stuck or urgent about an upcoming event or an experience that has already happened: STOP IT. Urgency is possibly one of the most dysregulating environmental variables we encounter. Imagine what would happen if the next time you were feeling urgent, anxious, or high-stakes about a decision or an event that instead of staring at it, you look away. Get in on this moment right now, take a break and allow yourself to remember this: nothing in this world happens by mistake and we are not going to miss something or blow something that is meant for us. When you are feeling urgent and pressure about taking an action, quick- STOP IT. Wait, take a break and come back to it when the urgency has decreased.
Remember the Wise Mind test question, “Can it wait?” Everything important can wait until you can make a grounded, wise minded choice.
3. Decide. Indecision is another dysregulating environmental factor, I find indecision to be such a tricky space to navigate especially when paired with a sense of urgency around the decision. The most useful approach to indecision is one of the following two decision life hacks:
- Decide for now. Make a decision based on the information you have in this moment, solve for X and then put it away. When more information presents itself or circumstances change, level up and make a new decision with the new data set. Let go, for now.
- Decide not to decide. Make a decision not to make a decision for an allotted amount of time, a few hours, a day, a month, 6 months. Decide not to decide, and trust that you will know what to do, when you know what to do. Sometimes it isn’t time for making the decision we are demanding ourselves to make, we don’t know enough, we need to circle back to the decision in different self-state. I have had this happen more times than I can count where I will be killing myself about a decision that I am not ready to make, hence the indecision, and then I decide not to decide and give myself a decision deadline. When I come back to the decision in a week, a month, or even 2 hours, I am shocked by my clarity. I am decidedly clear on this dilemma that had me baffled just the other day. Sometimes we quite literally cannot see it, because we are staring too hard. Look away, let go for now.
- For more on decision making check out: The Indecision Trap: When it Comes to Life's Challenges, We Really Only Have 4 Choices.
4. Remember. When we are feeling emotions we often forget that there was a time when we have felt differently than we do right now, ever. Fortunately, everything changes. Impermanence allows us to trust in the fact that everything is temporary, everything will pass. If what you are experiencing is magical- experience it fully and completely- it will pass. If what you are experiencing is painful and you feel miserable- allow the experience without pushing it away or making it bigger than it is- this too shall pass. Everything passes, remember sometimes all we need is a prescription for tomorrow. This is important to consider when looking at the first three tips for finding your Zen. Sometimes emotions can really jam us up about a decision, a reaction, or an outcome. The best, most skillful thing we can do for ourselves is detach until the emotional charge has passed. It all passes, if we let it.
5. Acceptance. Change the things you can change, problem solve, and make decisions. We are essentially only in control of two things: 1. Ourselves and our actions, 2. Our reaction to others and their actions. That is a lot, and it is not a lot. The practice of accepting life as it is, rather than as we believe it should be, is the most effective skill I teach and use in my own life. When you notice you are disturbed or angry, check in with yourself, is there something you are struggling to accept? Is there something that you don’t like or agree with that is happening in your life causing you pain? Is there something you are not fully accepting that is getting in the way of your ability to be at peace. Can you accept it, even just in this moment, right here, right now? (go to #1.)
6. Love yourself hard and be gentle. The most incredible things happen out of a place of self-love and acceptance. We are complex people, living in a complex time, sometimes walking with confidence and a rock-solid sense of who we are and the life we are leading, and sometimes flailing around in the dark. You are doing the best you can, remember that and be easy when you get it “wrong” after decidedly operating out of the irritating preoccupation with getting it “right” this time. You are exactly right, as you are, keep it up!